A reboot about the top 1%, in 2021? Tactful. Having premiered on July 8, unfavorable reviews are already calling the Gossip Girl reboot a fail. Do we still care about watching the uber wealthy navigate their privilege? Is Gen Z — with our raised focus on social justice, sustainability and humanity — really interested in Gossip Girl 2.0? Is there anything new the show can bring to the forefront without losing its authenticity?
In a June 22 interview with Vulture, showrunner Josh Safran made the main objective clear: make it Gossip Girl, but more modern and relevant. Here, the first problem arises. Most Gen Z people are interested in deep conversations, connections and political or social justice issues. Do we really want to watch the 1% grapple with all of these issues, especially if they are not the ones being marginalized? I’m not sure I want to watch someone with millions in generational wealth talk about poverty and racism in America.
Think about it; Gossip Girl mainly focused on the world of the so-called “old money rich” with a few billionaires here and there plus the inevitable outsider who was trying to make it big in their world. Let’s assume that the current youth, even if extremely wealthy, does indeed truly care about these issues — how can they justify not making a difference if they have the means to do so?
Safran also mentioned in the interview with Vulture that the difference between the original show and the reboot is that the new characters are aware of their privilege — but who wants to watch a bunch of rich people sit around feeling guilty for their wealth? If you don’t lean into the trashy, escapist fantasy of the original, where characters blow money on luxury shopping sprees, you get stuck in this wishy-washy limbo of immorality. What worked about the original is that we loved to pass judgment on these characters, just as much as we wanted to be them. Turning them into earnest people who think deeply about the impact of their actions may make them more socially aware on screen, but it seems like a half-baked attempt that achieves neither the voyeuristic excess of the original nor the real Gen Z take on wealth (eat the rich).
Assuming now that Gen Z does, in fact, care about the uber wealthy, what is it that this show is offering to us that others haven’t? Take Spanish series Elite, for example, where the main recipe for success also includes the super wealthy and the outsiders, just like in the original Gossip Girl. Elite doubles as a murder mystery, has a fresher take, and guess what? They even did the throuple plot better than GG.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Gossip Girl reboot is filled with LGBTQ+ representation and more racial diversity, which actually represents Gen Z — of course, they’re all still super-rich, but at least we’re not dealing with another unrelatable entirely cis het cast. The actress portraying Luna La, Zion Moreno, is trans. If the show were to make it onto the small screens, executed properly, it could be a hit for Gen Z audiences.
But the question remains: Is any of this new or exciting enough to become a new phenomena?